I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that the honours system in Britain has become farcical. With every British Empire Medal (BEM) that goes to someone who does incredible things in the community, goes a knighthood to someone who plainly doesn’t deserve anything, political honours like the gong awarded to ‘Sir’ Lynton Crosby for helping David Cameron win the 2015 general election or business honours like ‘Sir’ Philip Green’s gong, handed to him by a Labour prime minister, for services to making £5 billion for himself. But I have a suggestion that I hope is not at all controversial. One man deserves a seriously important gong more than anyone else: ‘our’ own astronaut Tim Peake and here’s why.
He is not Britain’s first astronaut but he is the first to go into space with the European Space Agency (ESA). He left amid an enormous media fanfare and, quite wonderfully, his progress has been followed by the nation ever since. He performed the first space walk by a Brit and even ran the London marathon from space. He has kept social networks busy with an astonishing series of astonishing images of both earth and space and kept us all up to date with his progress.
Commander Peake has charisma and personality to die for. He makes impossibly difficult subjects seem straightforward, even to non-techies like me. School teachers across the land have had the opportunity to tell Tim’s amazing story to a generation of awe-struck children, hopefully channelling their enthusiasm for and interest in science, a subject that is at the very heart of our future as a successful country.
In his first press conference from space, Tim said: “Life up here is absolutely spectacular … amazing view of Earth … way beyond my expectation.” It’s been way beyond mine too, seeing things like I’ve never seen them before.
For services to science, to education and for lighting up the lives of even the most cynical earth dwellers, his first port of call when he returns to earth should be Buckingham Palace. Arise Sir Tim Peake, a true national hero.